Facing future global challenges with a comprehensive, integrated approach to critical resources such as food, water and energy: this is the main issue at today’s ‘Water-Energy-Food Nexus” conference, an event of EXPO 2015, co-organized by ENEA, the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and WAME - World Access to Modern Energy, with the cooperation of the experts of FAO, IFAD, UNEP, UNIDO, IEA, and the Italian Environment Ministry.
Nowadays more than 1 billion people suffer from hunger, about the same number cannot afford drinking water, 2.5 billion lack access to energy; FAO and the OECD estimate that the situation is bound to worsen: over the next 30 years, in fact, the energy demand will increase by 80%, that of water of 55% and that of food by 60%. It is a strong pressure on resources, still with an increasing trend: agriculture, alone, accounts for 70% of water resources used globally, while a third of the energy consumed worldwide is used in the food chain.
“This comprehensive approach to food, water, and energy in ENEA is leading to new projects and solutions for outstanding problems'' emphasizes Massimo Iannetta, Head of the Technical Unit for Sustainable Development and Agro-Industrial Innovation of ENEA. “That is why we fully endorse such an innovative approach, it can match economic growth with sustainable development, an issue was highlighted as a priority since the first Nexus meeting hosted by the Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome, last March.”
To EXPO 2015, ENEA brought technologies, products and services for the best integrated use of water, soil, and energy in agriculture and agribusiness. The Vertical Farm exhibited by ENEA in the Future Food District stand as a symbol of it all. It is the first Italian example of vertical greenhouse, where in a small-scale, confined environment, food, water and energy are managed according to the Nexus approach.
Economic and environmental sustainability are also at the core of many technology transfer activities that ENEA carries out through many international cooperation programs, especially in Africa. One example: the project FREDDAS, funded by DGCS and developed by Green Cross, which made it possible to cultivate land in areas at risk of desertification in Senegal, thanks to new photovoltaic systems and high-efficiency pumps.
ENEA also cooperates with number of international organizations and UN specialized agencies, and implements some EU programs in the Mediterranean. In particular, it is committed to carrying out programs for the sustainable management and governance of water resources in semi-arid regions (WATER-DROP project), for the integrated treatment and reuse of wastewater in the Mediterranean region (SWIM project), and for the realization of a concentrated thermodynamics solar power plant in Egypt, (MATS project).